Dec 18, 2015
Episode transcript below:
Hey guys! How’s it going? In today’s episode, I have an awesome tip for you to work on your English fluency, especially to help you with your listening.
You know, English listening skills can be really challenging because English just doesn’t sound the way it looks. It looks one way and then it sounds completely different. It’s just totally crazy. But using subtitles when you’re watching your favorite movies, your favorite TV shows, or even your favorite songs, can help so much, and it’s a fun way to learn the English language. I’ve used this technique to help me to learn Spanish, Portuguese and other languages, because I love music and I love movies. Maybe you do too! So, turning those subtitles on when you’re watching something in English and using the English subtitles will help you in many ways.
Here’s how: First of all, it activates two parts of your brain. So, not only are you listening and using your brain for your listening skills, but you’re also reading. So you’re activating different parts of your brain. So, this actually helps you to learn better and to remember new vocabulary or just to become aware of new vocabulary, because you might hear a new word, but kind of miss it, because you’re not sure what it is, you’re not sure how to spell it. But if you listen to it and read it in the subtitles, it’s going to stick in your mind much better.
So, English spelling is notoriously difficult. Being able to hear the word or phrase and read the subtitles is an excellent way to learn how to spell in English and to check your spelling, to learn new words, to be able to understand what that new word is and how to spell it; so that maybe you want to look it up in the dictionary, or ask your native English speaker friends about how to use that word in different situations, not only in the phrase or situation that you see in the movie or hear in a song.
Also, what’s really great about subtitles is that when you have a phrase, words can sound really different. For example, “Whatchu doin’?” I might say instead of “What are you doing?” So if you hear in a movie, “Whatchu doin’?” and you see on the screen, “What are you doing?” you’re going to realize, “Oh my gosh! These words, when we put them together in a phrase, they sound totally different!” But this will help you so much to make your English more natural.
Also, when you use subtitles, you can pause the video when there’s a new phrase or something confusing and you can check the subtitles. So, this is really, really helpful. As I mentioned, you’re not only hearing the word, but you’re reading it too.
Another important point is that seeing the words written down will help you to write them down in your notes. So, maybe you have an English notebook, on paper, or on your laptop, on your computer, or even just in your smartphone, and it will help you to write down your new words. It’s a really good idea to write down new words so that you can find out more about them. Maybe look up the meaning. Ask your friends about them. See how to use the words in different situations. And, of course, to review them because we have to see a new word or a new phrase, about twenty, thirty, even forty times, before it really sticks, before you’re confident about using it yourself.
So, don’t get down on yourself, don’t get frustrated, if after the first time you hear a new word in a movie, you can’t remember it and know how to use it in any situation. It’s just not realistic. Now, I know you’re smart, but be patient with yourself, because it really requires repetition, it’s really important.
So, a lot of English learners have asked me: “Should I use subtitles? Should I not use subtitles?” I say, try both. First, try listening to material, or try watching the movie, without the subtitles. Why not challenge yourself?